1.28.2014

Decor Inspiration Hunting

Home.

I have been doing a fair amount of traveling these past few months.  With all the traveling, one gets to see lots of different décor.  Not all is good, but quite a bit of it is very inspirational.  The price of some of these pieces in stores, hotels, etc. are probably out of control, but you just know many are quite possible to recreate.

Wood Lamp - Asheville, N.C.


While in Asheville, NC  I came upon a store called k2 Studio.  This store has become a stop each time Jeff and visit the city.  There are tons of great modern furniture and decorating items that I would love to take home, but are not compatible with our budget.  The one item that I truly fell in love with is a lamp. I knew instantly that I could make something like this, but it would take some planning and time.  I have been collecting wood/sticks for a few months now that are gnarled enough to use to recreate this.   I hope to get my butt in gear to show you this recreation soon.

Wall Art - Baltimore, Maryland


Wall art at Aloft hotel
On a recent week trip to the DC area, I saw this wall art in an Aloft Hotel we were staying at.  The look is so modern and basic that instantly I took a liking.  A piece of wood, a router, sander, and two different color paints look like they would allow to recreate this project.  I am saying this now, and honestly it could easily turn into a Pinterest fail, but you never know if you don’t take a chance. It's hard to see, but the lines going through the wood are channeled using a router and then painted with a light green to contrast with the white of the rest of the wood piece. 

Balls - Chicago, Illinois


Orb Lighting in a Chicago O'Hare United Club
Yes, I said it, “ Balls!”  Ok, orbs?  They were everywhere we went in Chicago, specifically lighted orbs.   They were in the hotels, the lounge at O’Hare, restaurants, clothing stores (Zara), everywhere.  What caught my eye was that they were all of a metallic finish (some darker, some lighter), varying sizes and heights, and all had some sort of light fixture incorporated.  Now, I am sure they all cost a pretty penny so I did some research.  All possibilities totally varied in price and style.  The main thing about doing something like this is that you need to choose the ball (orb) size that best fits your space.


Orb Lighting in Zara, Chicago IL
No matter how ridiculous the inspiration, take a picture of it and dream a bit.  If you love the look the caught your eye, you will find a way to make it on your own and yours.  Happy inspiration hunting.

<3 mk

1.15.2014

DIY His & Hers Mounted Pictures

Home.

Mod Podge used to adhere photo to canvas
Did you know it was called Mod Podge, not Modge Podge?  I have been calling this wonderful product the wrong name for many years.  I love how my husband pointed this out to me today as I was completing this project.  Who knew?

This project was created to add some personalization to our master bath.  We have so many wonderful pictures from our many travels and none of them are displayed around the house.  Picture to frame is the most obvious choice, but there are other easy and inexpensive options.  I had never mounted a picture on a canvas using Mod Podge before and it was about time I got to it.

This project takes about 5 minutes from start to finish.  Originally I wanted to paint the sides of the canvas black to mimic a frame, but I ended up purchasing a black canvas which saved time and was the same cost as a white one.

Trim.

Although the frame and the printed picture both were advertised as 11" x 14”, that didn’t seem to be situation.  Trim the printed picture to fit to your canvas so there is no overhang. It is suggested you use a paper cutter or something that will give you a perfect edge.

Glue.

Spread the Mod Podge on the top of the canvas.  An inexpensive foam brush works best.  Coat well, but not too thick as it will seep out the sides when pressing the picture on top.

Mount.

Wearing gloves is recommended to this part as fingerprints can ruin the printed picture.  Mount the trimmed picture on top of the glue, pressing lightly.  Turn the frame over and press the backside of the canvas to ensure the picture adheres to the canvas.  There might be some seeping of the glue, just wipe with a paper towel.


If you choose, you can coat the front for the picture with the Mod Podge as well.  I choose to not use it as my pictures were matte finished. 

Mod Podge comes in a variety of finishes. Check out the different finishes then finish to your preference.  The entire look of your project can be drastically changed just on the finished of this glue product.

His

Hers
Our pictures were taken by Jeff and I on our honeymoon in Hawaii’, our favorite place in the world.  The picture of Jeff is over my sink and my picture is by his sink.  I just love the way this project turned out.

<3 mk



1.12.2014

What did you do this weekend?


Food. Fashion. Home.

Do you ever feel that if you aren’t doing projects over the weekend, that you didn’t do anything?  We constantly struggle with this.  If we aren’t traveling or have events over the weekend, we both feel the need to constant being doing things around the house.  No, it really isn’t a problem, but we need to get in the mindset that it is ok to relax a bit and not actually get a project done.  That wasn’t the case this weekend because we did get some things done, but also had some time to enjoy the warmer weather and spent some relaxing time together.

Food.

Normally on the weekends one usually makes more complicated dishes because there is more time.  I just wasn’t in the mood.  I made some of my easier dishes like the marinated edemame to go with some pot stickers for one meal and then a quick warm kale salad for a light dinner on Sunday.  That warm kale salad has become a staple dish about two times a week lately. 


I have been keeping up with my New Year’s Resolution to drink more water.  The aquazinger it awesome!  The fact that I’m not sucking up lemon pits when I drink my water has made the whole process easier.  I love the fact that the bottle is dishwasher safe, because things do not get washed by hand in this house unless absolutely mandatory, it just takes too much time.  I also love the fact that I get a few uses out of the fruit or veggies you put on the bottom.  My favorite for sure has been lemon and cucumber.  The bottle came with an ingredients ideas and recipes that have different veggies, fruits, herbs, spices, even sugars.  I think I will try the citrus cilantro this week.

Fashion.



I received something in the mail on Friday when I got home and I haven’t been so excited about a delivery like that in a while.  My first Stitch Fix order was delivered.  I knew it was coming because they had sent me an email letting me know it was on its way.  There are little surprises left in life anymore and this clearly was one of them.  I was so giddy to open that box and see what “my stylist” had chosen for me.

Inside was a fit and flare dress that was cobalt and blue, owl print button-up cotton cardigan,  two short sleeve shirts (chevron and solid/striped arms), and a printed ¾ sleeve blouse.  Inside the box were picture cards with each item for a day look and a night look.  I tried all the items on and really thought about outfits to put together with them.  In the end, I returned all of the items.  TEAR!!!   The dress was a little bit big for me, but I have something similar so it wasn’t worth exchanging, even though I usually love anything in cobalt blue.  The cardigan was exactly my style minus the owls.  I just don’t do clothing with animals on it, animal prints are ok, not animals.  The t-shirts were great, but for $48 each, this frugal gal just won't allow that.  My biggest upset was the ¾ sleeve blouse.  It was super cute and exactly what my style, but I also like to raise my arms in the air without tearing the back.  I have a larger back and this blouse had no stretch.  Going up a size would have been too large so it had to go back too.

Returning was really easy.  I just put the items back into a return bag that came with the order and brought the bag to the post office.  You have three days to make your decision.  I went online and completed a survey of the items, just as I explained above.  This way my “stylist” can understand my clothing choices better.  The survey asks about the style, the price, the fit, etc. and then also has a comments section.  How smart is it that they want to get the choices right?  Now they know,  “I don’t do animals on my clothing.” 




So the Debbie Downer part of this story is that I had to return my stuff, but the upside is that in February the 11th to be exact, I will get my next order and the surprise factor will return again.

Home.

There is always a project to keep me busy.  I did a lot of odds and ends things this weekend; sewing, cleaning, organizing, and small projects.

Back of pillow slipcover showing access opening
I made another slipcover for a pillow.  I didn't think I had enough of the navy chevron fabric, but it worked out perfectly.  While I had the sewing machine out, I also sewed a few items that needed a stitch. 

After reading a post for YHL, I got the idea that we needed to renew the grout in our bathrooms.  Jeff was the logical one and suggested just using some bleach and a toothbrush; he is so smart. Our house is only a few years old and therefore the renewal wasn't needed.  No need to purchase and spend more time than needed.  A little elbow grease and about an hour and it was done.  It looks like a whole new floor.

Before bleach and a toothbrush 
After bleach and a toothbrush
I also made some wall art for our master bathroom that I will be posting later on this week. The project was extremely simple and took only a few minutes. More to come.

What did you get done this weekend?  If you said nothing, then I'm a bit envious.


<3 mk

1.09.2014

DIY Pillow Slipcovers

Home.


Pillows!  I love patterned pillows.  Pillows allow one to add patterns and colors to a room in an inexpensive way.  I have been looking high and low for blue pillows or pillow covers to add color to the living room and have been unsuccessful finding ones that were in my budget so I decided to make my own.  I already have the pillows, but just needed covers. 

So why do I need to make pillow covers? We have an open concept living room, kitchen, and dining room situation.  The ceiling in the dining room was painted blue and we didn't mind it so we bought a rug that went with that color scheme.  When that happened, we realized that we needed to add some blue into our living room area instead of all the black, grey, and whites.  We already have orange going on in there too which we carried over from our last house.  Orange and royal/navy blue look great together.  We recently purchased a zig-zag/chevron patterned navy and white rug for the living room so I wanted the pillows on the couch to go with that.  Pretty much there was a whole chain effect leading to the making of these pillow covers.

When looking for easy patterns, this one in particular stuck with me because it didn't require a zipper and still could be removed.  Following the tutorial was easy to follow the steps and didn’t take much time at all.  The measuring was easily modified, as my pillows were larger than the ones in the tutorial. Here is the breakdown:

  •  My pillows were 20 x 20 inches, so my width was measured at 21”.   
  • The overhang in the tutorial adds 6 inches to the length, but I did 7” and still had enough to overlap in the back. 
  • The length was 47” measured (2 x 20" = 40 + 7= 47”). 
  • No matter the size of your pillow, make sure you give yourself an extra inch to the width and enough overlap on the length.

Saving some money tips...

The fabric came from the reminisce pile at Hobby Lobby. The pillows were down inserts from pillows purchased in the clearance section at TJ Maxx for $12.99.  No need to spend big bucks (regularly at least $30) on down inserts.  Instead, buy ugly but quality down pillows that have zippers so you can easily remove the insides and reuse.   Quality pillows retain the sweet "karate chop" dent in the top. Try it out!

Happy sewing!

<3 mk

1.07.2014

Easy Soft Pretzel w/ Warm Pesto Cheese Dipping Sauce

Food.


One of my favorite pizza places in Washington D.C. is a place called Pizza Paradiso.  All the locations have an awesome beer selection as well as having ridiculous pizza and food.  When we lived in NOVA (Northern VA) we would take bike rides into DC and we would often find ourselves stopping at the Georgetown location for a break before the long ride back home.  We often didn't want to eat a pizza because it would sit heavy in our stomach and we had about 15 miles on our return trip, so we would order fresh baked pretzels.  That was always an awesome choice because it was always delicious. Not only were the pretzel hot, soft, and salty, they came with a delicious pesto and cheese dipping sauce that was A-maz-ing!  I was feeling nostalgic so I knew I needed to recreate this snack ASAP. 

Being the non-baker I am, I realized that the recreation would require some shortcuts.  I shy away from baking with yeast so I took the easy way out and bought my own dough.  I figured that Pizza Paradiso being a pizza place used their own dough to make the pretzels, so my plan was golden.  Recreating the dip took a few tries, but I didn’t mind experimenting.  If you want to make you own pretzels from scratch, here is a recipe that I used to help guide me in the process. 


Soft Pretzel

1 package of store bought pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s Herbed Dough)
kosher salt
1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon water, whisked together for egg wash
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda

Basil Cheese Dip

2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¾ cup milk
¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
¼ cup shredded Fontina cheese
1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 ½ cup fresh basil
1/4 cup Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Put in a pizza stone to heat up if you have one.  It will allow for the optimum crispy bottom.  Put the water on the stovetop to boil with the baking soda added.

Place the dough out onto a slightly floured work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan. Use pictures on the Internet to guide you in this process if you are confused, or, watch the workers for a while at Auntie Annie's at the mall.


Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for about 30 seconds, they will rise to the top of the water. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten wash mixture and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, about 12- 14 minutes.


To make the sauce, combine the basil leaves and olive oil in a blender or food processor until you no longer can see leaves. 

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in the chopped garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Whisk in the flour until it thickens and bubbles.  Whisk in the mustard and milk until incorporated.  When the mixture slightly thickens further, add in all the cheeses and then the basil pesto.  Take off heat and serve in bowl to use as the dipping sauce for the pretzels.

Enjoy.


<3 mk

1.01.2014

New Year’s Resolution

Self. Beauty.


Yes, its that time again when the ball drops, the clock strikes 12 and people vow to make big changes in their lives.  I think you should strive to make goals for your self more than just once a year, but if you want to do this in 2014, the first day of the year is always a great place to start.



Did you know? Any goal, especially a New Year’s resolution is less likely to occur if you tell people about it and can reduce your motivation.   That is such a debbie downer comment, but it is true.  How many times did you tell people about specific goals and they really haven't supported you, made a negative comment, or the biggest factor - you just plain lost motivation.  There's actual science behind it that.   Though, by telling you this fact, I'm in no way telling you to not tell people about your resolution, I'm only suggesting keeping those big goals in life close to you and keep working each day to accomplish them.  Check out the TED video below by Derek Sivers, "Keep your goals to yourself" where he explains this idea in three minutes.




With that being said, I’m going to break the rule and I am going to tell you about my new goal because I think it’s worth sharing and maybe it will help you.  I have to say that I have tried my new goal a few times in the past and went on big spurts of success, but then failed at other times.  Now that I am getting older, I am seeing that my lack of this thing isn't making me look any younger.  Can you guess what my resolution is now?

Water, people, I need to drink more water!  Yes, I am so guilty of not doing it enough and I blame my job, of course it really isn't my fault at all.  Teaching truly is an all day thing and going to the bathroom frequently really isn't easy to pull off.  So, I don’t drink enough water throughout the day and my skin is paying for it.  I thought when we bought our new home that I would drink much more because we had a built in water dispenser on the fridge, but that only happens when I am home, which is sometimes on the weekends, and in the evenings. 

As you probably guessed, I am not a big water fan.  When I do drink water, it is always with flavor, especially lemon. I LOVE IT!  I am sure waitresses at restaurants hate me because I am always requesting lemon my water, otherwise, I won't drink it.



So the goal is to drink more water and now you know that I like it flavored…in comes the Aquazinger.  Genius. This was shared with me through my good friend and boy does she know me.  It keeps the fruit or even veggies (love me some cucumber) on the bottom of the bottle, so you get the flavor infused into your water, but not the chunks.  This way I can refill during the day without losing any flavor. 

I am willing to work around the extra bathroom breaks, but I know my skin and health will thank me for it in the end.  Not only will my skin be happy, but think about it, with this one can satisfy the palette as well as reduce your food cravings and save money. I’m excited to try it out for the next few weeks and fill you in on my progress.

<3 mk

Happy Holidays! Belated.

Food. Fashion. Home. 


I have taken some time away to celebrate the holiday season with some travel and visiting of friends and family.  Over the last week or so, we have been to Chicago, New Jersey and New York.  We have literally been on three planes, two trains and in numerous automobiles and are exhausted!  It was so great to be able to see people we have missed so much since moving and get to spend valuable time them, but even happier to be home. 

This trip gave me tons of new inspiring ideas and goals for the New Year that I look forward to sharing with you. 


<3 mk

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